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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/7/09

How Selective Prosecution Can Affect Every Member of Congress

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Message Don Siegelman

Dear Supporter,

Tell your Members of Congress we need their help -- for their own good and for ours.

Send them an email today! It's time to educate Congress a little more about my case. They know that Karl Rove was involved in getting the United States government to pursue me. They know that I was "selectively prosecuted," as exposed by Time Magazine. They know something about the prosecutorial misconduct explained by CBS' 60 Minutes. They may even know that I was convicted of something that (according to The New York Times) has never been a crime in America. But here's what they don't know: If the United States government wins its case against me, it would set a dangerous precedent.

Any Member of the U.S. House or U.S. Senate could be prosecuted for supporting legislation favored by a contributor. That's outrageous! I'm all for campaign finance reform, and ultimately public financing for political campaigns. But until that time comes, political candidates will always look to raise money from people who share their views on the issues. If that's held to be illegal, well, every single elected official is in trouble. We need to make sure that our representatives in Congress understand the danger this case poses, and urge them to speak out.

Please forward an email to your representatives in Congress today. The law on this point is clear: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the McCormick case that it takes an explicit agreement to swap a campaign contribution for an official act -- real, explicit bribery -- before politics becomes crime. However, the judges in my case claimed that jurors could "infer" such an agreement and imagine whatever they choose. That's the opposite of explicit -- and a far different standard.

A bipartisan group of 54 state Attorneys General told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that "such an interpretation puts at risk every politician who accepts a campaign contribution...." This is a chilling precedent to set for the First Amendment rights of politically active citizens and the ability of officeholders to execute their duties. Forward an email to your Senators and Member of Congress today. I hope you'll join with me in undoing this injustice and restoring our democratic principles by writing your Senators and Member of Congress today!

Thank you for your support,

Don Siegelman Governor of Alabama 1999-2003

P.S. In a recent editorial, The New York Times asked the Department of Justice to investigate my case, citing a letter from 75 former state Attorneys General who said the issues raised "require an immediate investigation, because they go to the core concepts of fairness and due process, which are at the foundation of our criminal justice and legal system."

If you have a moment, after emailing your Members of Congress, please send a thank you email to Adam Cohen, Editorial Page Editor of the New York Times, at P.P.S. Looking for more ways to help? Here are three more actions you can take quickly to make your voice heard about my case on Capitol Hill:

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Don Siegelman is the former Democratic Governor of Alabama.
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